Tribal Consultation

Petroglyph in southern UtahGSA's Rocky Mountain Region's Historic Preservation Office is committed to providing customers with excellent service relating to all aspects of preservation. This includes alterations or destruction of cultural resources, of particular concern during any ground disturbing activities (for federal or leased projects), that due to federal historic preservation laws, mandate federal consultation with Native American tribal government on a government-to-government basis. The laws include:

  • The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), passed in 1990, provides a process for museums and federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items –-- human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony –-- to lineal descendants, culturally-affiliated Native American tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations. Under Section 3 of the law, repatriation is mandated for Native American cultural items excavated or discovered on federal land after November 16, 1990.
  • The Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), passed in 1979, requires federal agencies to consult with tribal authorities before permitting archeological excavations on tribal lands. It also mandates the confidentially of information concerning the nature and location of archeological resources, including tribal archeological resources.
  • The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) [PDF], passed in 1978, affirms a national policy to protect and preserve for Native Americans their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of indigenous America, including protecting and preserving access to sacred sites.
  • Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archeological Documentation
  • National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, passed in 1969, calls for the federal government to invite the participation of any affected Native American tribe in the environmental review process.
  • The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1996, as amended in 1992, enhanced Native American tribal roles in historic preservation and created the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) program. Federal agency obligation to consult with Native American tribal governments under Section 106 of NHPA.

Executive orders regarding the federal government's unique policies and relationship with Native American tribal governments include:

  • Executive Order 13007 Indian Sacred Sites, issued by President Clinton in 1996, directed federal agencies to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Native American sacred sites by Native American religious practitioners, as well as avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.
  • Executive Order 13175 Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, issued by President Clinton in 2000, recognized tribal rights of self-government and tribal sovereignty, and affirmed and committed the federal government to a work with Native American tribal governments on a government-to-government basis.

Those interested in learning more can browse GSA's Detailed Information on Tribal Consultation.

For more information, please contact:
Andrea Collins

Last Reviewed: 2021-11-02